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A lifetime of service

Long County’s Cecil Nobles, Georgia’s longest-serving sheriff, passes away at the age of 76

POSTED: January 11, 2012 10:03 a.m.
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Cecil Nobles as a seventh-grade teacher in the 1960s.

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Longtime Long County Sheriff Cecil Nobles died Monday at Wayne County Hospital in Jesup. He was 76 years old. Nobles had been battling cancer and was undergoing treatment at the time of his death.

According to biographical information provided by the Long County Sheriff’s Office, Nobles first was elected in Long County in 1969 and held the office for the rest of his life, making him the longest-serving sheriff in Georgia and the second-longest-serving in the nation.

Nobles, a lifelong Long County resident, was born Feb. 21, 1935. He graduated from Ludowici High School in 1953 and attended Georgia Teachers College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in business administration in 1957.


He then attended Georgia Southern University and earned his master’s degree in education in 1961. Nobles was an educator in Long County from 1959-68, during which time he served as a teacher and an assistant principal. He was one of the first to teach an integrated class in the Long County School System.

At the urging of several friends in the community, Nobles qualified as a candidate for sheriff in 1968. His first term began in 1969. When Nobles was elected, he was the first sheriff in the history of Georgia to hold a master’s degree. He was re-elected 10 more times, serving more than 43 years in office.

Those who knew the sheriff have heard him joke that when he first took office, the most high-tech piece of equipment in his department was an old manual type-writer, which still sits on his desk today. As time passed, though, Nobles worked to improve and transform his department, which he expanded to include training courses on such topics as how to prevent terrorist attacks in schools. The department also joined the National Crime Map Network.

Nobles was recognized countless times during his time as sheriff. One of his most prestigious accolades came in 2001, when Highway 301 in Long County was named Cecil Nobles Highway. In 2009, the Georgia State Senate passed Resolution 271 to honor Nobles for his contributions to education and law enforcement.

Even as his health declined in recent years, the sheriff continued to serve on the local and state levels. He served as a member of the Georgia Board of Corrections, supported the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and contributed to the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout.

In recent years, Nobles encouraged local schools to take part in the CHAMPS (Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety) program, which teaches kids the dangers of using both legal and illegal drugs.

Nobles leaves behind to mourn his memory friends and family members. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Peggy, or as most Long County residents know her, Ms. Peggy; three sons, James, who practices law in Atlanta, Kenneth, who, like his father, works in law enforcement, and Craig, who serves as a Long County Sheriff’s Office deputy; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.


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